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5780: The Year of Environmental Teshuva

We are in a global environmental crisis.
Jewish tradition compels us to respond.

 

What is teshuva?

From the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul through the last day of Sukkot, we turn inward and reflect on how we can strive to be our best selves in the coming year.

Teshuva can be translated as repentance, return, answer, self-actualization, and/or lifting your inner voice for good. It is about reconnecting and reaffirming one’s commitment to living a healthy and good life.

What is environmental teshuva?

Environmental teshuva is the outward manifestation of our commitment to doing better for the planet. As you examine your individual impact on the planet, consider:

  • How do you relate to the planet or the climate crisis?
  • Which of your behaviors do you know are less than ideal?
  • What are one or two areas in the coming year in which you will commit to try to do better?

In August 2019, Hazon had four video billboards displayed in Times Square. We debuted the message “5780: The Year of Environmental Teshvua.” Watch the video.

Calendar

This is a crucial time for climate action. Climate Week, the Global Climate Strike, and the Jewish holidays all converge in the coming weeks.

Calendar of Events

We Are the Weather

Hazon is creating a discussion guide for Jewish communities to accompany Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest book, which focuses on climate change.

We Are The Weather

Resources

Join and support Hazon’s work with sustainability tips, Jewish source texts, and divrei torah.

 

Resources

Calendar of Events

September 1
Rosh Chodesh Elul / Rosh Hashanah LeBehemot

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Today is the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul and also Rosh Hashanah LaBehemot, the Jewish New Year for the Animals. Just as Tu B’Shvat has been revived as a Jewish Earth Day, Rosh Hashanah La’Behemot is a modern-day reminder of human relationships with animals. Learn more.

September 6 – 8
Food Waste Weekend

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Today is the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul and also Rosh Hashanah LaBehemot, the Jewish New Year for the Animals. Just as Tu B’Shvat has been revived as a Jewish Earth Day, Rosh Hashanah La’Behemot is a modern-day reminder of human relationships with animals. Learn more.

September 9
High Holiday Sermon Swap & Learning Webinar

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In preparation for the High Holidays, join Hazon in conversation with Dr. Richard Schwartz about climate change and how the Jewish tradition compels us to respond. After his presentation, engage in a sermon swap! This webinar is geared towards rabbis and spiritual leaders. Learn More

September 17
We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer is published

Read more below.

September 20
Global Climate Strike March

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On Friday, September 20, three days before the UN Climate Summit in NYC, young people and adults will strike all across the US and the world to demand transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis. Millions of us will take to the streets globally to demand justice for our present and a right to a future. In New York, we will march and rally to demand real action by our elected officials and world leaders. Learn more about the events in NYC or find a march near you.

September 21
Community Wide Musical Havdalah for Planet Earth (NYC)

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The day after the Global Climate Strike, come together in community with people dedicated to the earth and climate change for Havdalah, song, and a Selichot-infused night of dedication and connection. Learn More.

September 20 – 29:
Climate Week

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Run in coordination with the UN and the City of New York, Climate Week continues to grow as the time and place for the world to showcase amazing climate action and discuss how to do more. Learn More.

September 23
United Nations Climate Action Summit

September 27 – 29
Reducetarian Summit (Washington DC)

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The Reducetarian Summit brings together people and perspectives from all corners of the world to explore strategies and tactics for reducing societal consumption of animal products and ending factory farming. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, will be delivering the keynote speech. Learn More.

September 27 – 29
Character Day (Tech Shabbat)

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How does turning off screens every week for Shabbat enhance our character and bring more balance and meaning to our lives? Character Day is an annual global event that unites millions of people in schools, companies, congregations, and homes to develop and deepen their character. This year’s theme is Technology Shabbat. Join us by signing up your school, school district, company, organization, congregation, or home. Learn More.

Sept. 27-29: Join us at Isabella Freedman for Shabbat Elul, the final Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah

 

Sept 29 – Oct 1
Rosh Hashanah

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The holiday of Rosh Hashanah is the perfect time to let the blasts of the shofar shake you awake to the world around you. It’s a time to open up to new possibilities and be grateful for everything you have.  And more than anything, Rosh Hashanah offers the opportunity for teshuva – to return to our best, most full versions of ourselves. As we turn inward, we have the chance to ask, “what impact do our actions have on our friends and family, our communities, and on the earth?” Holiday Resources.

October 8 – 9
Yom Kippur

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On Yom Kippur, our relationship with the outside world changes. Instead of thinking about what we consume, we focus on self-reflection and prayer. It is an ideal time to learn and reflect on our relationships with food and the environment. Holiday Resources.

October 13 – 22
Sukkot

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The Jewish holiday of Sukkot celebrates the Fall Harvest. We are told to sleep, eat, and relax outdoors in our sukkah. Sukkot also celebrates the time when farmers have completed their harvest and are able to indulge in some relaxation before the first rains of the season hit. This holiday inherently relates to the environment, where we are gathering our seasonal fall produce from. Sukkot celebrates our seasonal food gatherings and the environment, hence during this holiday we should be more mindful of the impact that our celebrations have on the world around us. Holiday Resources.

Northern streams full of water after a rainy week

October 20 – 22
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

Oct 13-22: Join us at Isabella Freedman for Sukkahfest

 

November 2
Parshat Noach / The Flood Story

Hazon and We Are the Weather

We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer

We are reaching a tipping point of sorts – not only in terms of extreme weather events – but also in relation to people’s consciousness of them. A growing number of people in the Jewish community – and Hazon as an organization – feel strongly that we ought to be “doing something” about this. Hazon is here to catalyze and support Jewish institutions and Jewish leaders, as Jewish tradition compels us to respond to this crisis.

We enthusiastically encourage you to read We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is a superb, readable, and very Jewish explication of how and why and in what ways our food choices matter. We Are the Weather will be released on September 17th. Hazon is creating a discussion guide for Jewish communities to accompany the book that will be available later in September.

Some people reject the fact, overwhelmingly supported by scientists, that our planet is warming because of human activity. But do those of us who accept the reality of human-caused climate change truly believe it? If we did, surely we would be roused to act on what we know. Will future generations distinguish between those who didn’t believe in the science of global warming and those who said they accepted the science but failed to change their lives in response?

In We Are the Weather, Jonathan Safran Foer explores the central global dilemma of our time in a surprising, deeply personal, and urgent new way. The task of saving the planet will involve a great reckoning with ourselves—with our all-too-human reluctance to sacrifice immediate comfort for the sake of the future. We have, he reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic. Only collective action will save our home and way of life. And it all starts with what we eat—and don’t eat—for breakfast.

If you’re interested in hosting a book group or other program related to We Are the Weather, or anything at the intersection of Judaism, food, and climate, contact Becky O’Brien, Hazon’s Director of Food & Climate, becky@hazon.org.

One of the things that has made me most proud of being Jewish is our people’s emphasis on action. More than our thoughts and our feelings, we are defined by our choices… We must not be content with words. We must change our behaviors, as individuals and as a community.
—Jonathan Safran Foer
 

Resources

Learn Where Your Food Comes From

Most people have some sense that food is central to Jewish life and Jewish tradition, but they’re far less aware that individual food choices are among the top anthropogenic drivers of climate change. Hazon has compiled these resources for you to make educated food choices.

Join the Hazon Seal of Sustainability

The Hazon Seal of Sustainability is an annual program that provides guidance and support to advance sustainability-related education, action, and advocacy in your Jewish institution, organization, and community. Rooted in Jewish tradition, participation in the Hazon Seal program will, over time, make your community healthier and more sustainable, both Jewishly and environmentally!

Support Hazon

Contribute to our movement to lead the Jewish community to a more sustainable future. Give a one-time gift or set up a sustaining donation as you are able.

Sermons and Divrei Torah

We are collecting copies of sermons and divrei Torah which focus on Environmental Teshuva. If you would like us to share your words, please email Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein.